birthday light.

dear world,

winter solstice. thirtieth birthday. christmas. new moon. new year.

there are drawbacks to being born so close to christmas, but one of the big benefits is celebrating during such a transformational time of year. the dark begins to turn to light. the spirit of giving is in full swing. the lunar cycle resets. and the resolutions for the new year emerge.

it’s 5:30am, and the sound of rain drizzling down upon our tin patio roof lures me from the warmth of my bed into the cold, damp, mosquito-infested air. wrapped in a blanket, i sit here watching the sky turn to flames. a small little spark, and the darkness evaporates.

suddenly it is the day i was born.

the rest of the country is already awake. my phone is dancing to its own beat of vibrations and lighting up the morning. an endless outpouring of love all before breakfast. i sit in the aftermath of sunrise and count my blessings.

each and every family member, friend, acquaintance, and even stranger. thank you.

thank you for taking a moment of your day and giving it to me. i will relish every ounce of it. for this is a time of change.

in the coming weeks, we will vow to eat healthier or travel some place new or stop swearing so much. our list of resolutions will empower us to march into the new year with courage and hope.

i am courageous. i am hopeful. but i am weary of the darkness. i have always been weary of the darkness. i am a northern child born just as the earth begins her journey towards spring. i am a child meant to light up the dark.

so what do i want for my birthday?

i want you to be a light.

paz y besos,

she creates.

what happens when an artist loses her artistry? when the pen falls from her hand, when the rhythm fades from her step, when the shutter stops beneath her finger. she is left surrounded by those that are still creating and yet she creates no more. every ounce of inspiration sits in waiting amidst the musings of someone else.

her words are not her words. her moves are not her moves. her images are not her images. there is a desire to find them again, yet something encases the urge. trapping each idea below the surface. with no awen there to pull them through the glass, she stares at the reflection until they disappear untouched.

she fights the cravings by occupying time with distractions, but like any addiction, the need returns. as she watches others craft and indulge, she cannot help but envy the outcomes. chaos captured into something beyond rational comprehension. how can she transcend the disconnect? when does she become them?

day by day, the energy subdivides and focus falls into multitasking passions. we want it all, so we try to take it all. but, her container cannot hold it all. she overflows spilling out necessary pieces of her intuition. you cannot put toothpaste back into the tube, but she will try. she will continuously try. every lost edge reformed to fit back into her current puzzle.

she falls in and out of love with the notion of creativity, trying to comprehend how this seemingly insignificant portion of her being occupies so many hours of her thought. mental exhaustion battling the misunderstood efforts to define her influence.

she deafens herself with their songs, their words, their rhythms, their rhymes, until she can no longer hear her yearnings. misguiding each intention to disillusion. the tired moth dissolves to dust in the flame.

then something shifts.

a hidden glint of what could be appears from the ashes, and she can’t help but hold onto it for dear life. a simple reminder that creation is eternal. that an empty space can always be filled with something more. that action stimulates art.

and then, she creates.

three decades of home.

february march april may june july august september october november

we moved to honolulu ten months ago.

in ten months, i have not written a single word about hawaii on this blog. i have not spent a moment of time reflecting on this next chapter. why?

you know why…

who sits and stares at their laptop writing when it is 85ºF and sunny outside? when the surf is overhead and breaking perfectly? when the tide is low enough to climb the oceanside rock arch? when there are fish to be caught and beach bonfires to be had?

yeah, no one.

so here i am. ten months later. finally finding the time.

where did i find the time?

i am alone on an airplane. surprise surprise!

i wonder if all travelers write their blogs on airplanes. if they sit and reminisce about their last adventure while on their way to planning the next.

or maybe they are more disciplined and make the time each night to update their followers like i did when i was traveling around india for a month. it is better that way. the details are fresh. you are not summarizing several weeks or months into 1000 words. you are just decompressing. unloading the day to the page just as you would to your spouse over dinner.

so instead of trying to sum up ten months in one blog post, i’ll digress…

i turn 30 near the winter solstice. the longest night of the year.

every day i fluctuate between wanting to sleep through it on the beach by myself and wanting to plan an epic string of activities including everyone i’ve ever met.

some days i want to be in chicago with my family and lifelong fiends. i want to see a new release picked by my brother with my family at cantera. i want my sister to take me out to sing karaoke with a live band. i want to play dance video games against my cousin. i want aisha to magically appear. i want brian to serenade me. i want to eat fresh baked cookies at the grays with kritsin and jackie. i want to sip wine with katy and nadine. i want cooper and pat and the whole gang to give me a run for my money on some empty dive bar dance floor. and i want kayla and kristina and katina to make sure i don’t fall asleep before the clock strikes midnight on december 22.

but some days i want to be in michigan. i want to pretend i was back in college and stroll down main street all bundled up. i want to end up at the blind pig with becca to shake myself straight out of my 20s. i want jonathan to sit with my in the arb for hours. i want to bask on the santoro’s pier. i want lainie and kelly and lea to cook me an amazing feast followed by another feast from sue. i want to start the next morning with a cheese danish from wealthy bakery. i want to go sledding and skinny-dipping in lake michigan. yes, skinny-dipping in december. marlee will be there dancing in the snowy sand.

other days i want to be in portland. i want to wake up to a private yoga class with nathan. i want to spend all day at loyly sweating in the sauna and getting a facial from heather. i want paloma to lend me something cool to wear and get our dance on at mississippi studios. i want anna to order for me at andina and make me remember why i love ceviche. i want lisa to be my rope gun at smith. i want zac and lauren and ethan to unite with me for some witty banter and endless laughter. i want to find ian and give him a hug. i want to hang out in the noto office just for fun. and i want miles to share his coffee with me and introduce me to my next favorite album. autumn, you’re invited too.

most days though, i want to use all the frequent flyer miles i can muster to fly everyone straight to me. i want to turn yokohama into my own private beach. i want the people that have made the first thirty years of my life so amazing to spend december 22 surrounding me with their absurdities. i want to hug them and love them and never let them go. and i want to go home with  ryan and fall asleep in his arms. night after night after night.

hawaii is home for thirty. but my thirty is made up of three decades of homes. three decades of relationships that have challenged me and molded me into the woman i am now and the woman i will be in the future. cities and faces that stay with me wherever i go.

thank you saint charles and ann arbor and grand rapids and portland. thank you for being my home.

hawaii, it’s your turn to shape the next decade (or at least the beginning of it), and you’ve got a lot to live up to…



paris in the rearview.

life happens. before the hands can transcribe thought to script, the moment is gone. you keep on living. the details fade, and you can’t remember why you wrote that note about the ________.

but maybe it’s not the details that are important tomorrow.

today, six months later, i look at my notes: 

paris day three:

work, buy a french wardrobe due to climbing clothes selection

head to the louvre – seeing masterpieces i studied in college, things i wrote papers about, huge endless rooms of the world’s best art, surrounded by soldiers, never felt unsafe but rather safer amongst it all


mona lisa thoughts, masterpiece thoughts, all the thoughts


ice cream at the famous place on the island, patron saints of paris watching over




meditation with aunt and friends followed by dinner, another night falling asleep as my auntie drove me home.


by the bastille

paris day four:

breakfast – family does a mooc about versailles but it’s in french, so i do work

opera bastille – l’elisir d’amore by gaetano donizetti – lead female was amazing, a fun comic light hearted performance, fun to get dressed up, black and white – the colors of france



paris day five:


Versailles food market for some lunch fixings, baguettes, cheese, crepes, french yelling


family bonding – funny how us schneider women are all the same, the “outlaws” instead of inlaws


sunday – slow and simple

roasted chestnuts (french word for that = marrons chauds), i thought it was just a song


paris day six:

city tour…

train in by myself

notre dame – eavesdrop on a tour guide


shakespeare and co.


le procope


wander around latin quarter – get lost, curving streets meandering and turing into dead ends, endless cafes and creperies


tuileries garden stroll

champ elysees christmas market


petit palace / gran palace

arc de triomphe



crepe – egypt man

centre pompidou – pollack, matisse, different vibe, outdoor escalators reminded me of hong kong, best view from the top, tired legs, tired soul



eiffel tower always in the distance, standing tall watching over its city


day seven:

wake up in the french countryside to a crazy sunrise


versailles – palace and gardens, meandering with audio tour, wondering what it would be like to have a bedroom like those…



thai food for lunch with annie and jim

movie night – hunger games mockingly part 2

day eight:


day nine: 

museo d’Orsay – prostitutes exhibit, one elite parisian prostitute with last name schneider, maybe a past life… women in photography exhibit, giant inner working of clock, my monets




tour with ethan’s mom – local view, born and raised, best pastries, stories from long ago


thanksgiving dinner with family complete with my favorite, a delicious homemade pumpkin pie


day ten:

fly home via iceland and maryland to st. louis to meet family for thanksgiving weekend

today, six months later, i remember:

i remember the graffiti. after coming from hong kong, the artistic expression flying by me through the train window was comforting. back in a space known for its creativity. the culture and language that gave us avant garde. without stalking the historical cafes where artist after artist stewed over music and poetry, i felt it in the air. in the architecture. in the opera. in the fashion. in the people. there is a certain hype that surrounds paris, and i will remember being entirely swept up in it.

i remember the aloneness. i haven’t walked around alone in a big city in quite some time. aimlessly wandering the streets with no specific destination in mind. seeing where a left might take me instead of a right. missing a subway station on purpose so i can backtrack by foot through the chaos. walking around paris reminded me of when i lived in buenos aires. they say it is the paris of south america, and if i had to go by the way both cities made me feel, i’d have to agree. the magic is palpable. to passerbys, my joy probably was too.

i remember the meals. my aunt and cousins sat down together for dinner almost every night. the bell would ring and supper would be served. the busyness of the day would come to a pause as we all gathered around the table to fuel our bodies with food and minds with conversation. perhaps they don’t do this all the time. maybe it was because i was in town. but, either way, it was a cherished gift. a chance to get to know the relatives who have lived so far away all this time. a chance to learn and debate and laugh and eat fresh baguettes and drink french wine.

i’ll always remember what i remember. the specifics aren’t really that important anymore.

12 signs you were born and raised in the Chicago suburbs

In honor of heading home for the holidays… 12 signs you were born and raised in the Chicago suburbs:

1. You have a photo of yourself being knighted at Medieval Times.

Or crowned princess on your birthday, in my case. Nothing like slipping back in time and investigating ancient torture methods before cheering on the black and white checkered knight as he conquered the evil green knight in an epic jousting match. Let’s not forget the whole eating with your hands element, either.

2. The last Metra train determined when you had to close out your tab. 

And missing that last train meant a very expensive cab ride home from the city. You also knew that open containers were totally cool aboard the train, and necessary since Chicago cocktails were triple the price of your local Main Street bar. Let the train pre-game begin!

3. All your major life events were celebrated at Colonial. 

Or whatever your local diner happened to be. Dance recitals, school musicals, graduations, etc. all ended with a Kitchen Sink at Colonial. Not only did you get to celebrate your accomplishments with a 6-scoop ice cream sundae served in a miniature kitchen sink, you also got to walk away with a bumper sticker to prove you’re a fat ass.

4. You have at least one photo of yourself crying at Six Flags Great America. 

All right, maybe not every Chicago suburbanite hates walking around amusement parks in drenched denim as much as I do, but they definitely have made the trek to Gurnee at some point in their lives. One ride on the Viper’s 25-year-old wooden track (forward or backward) and you’ll be doubting your sanity for years to come.

See the rest of this article on Matador Network!


becoming an ocean girl, one surf at a time.

i have never been an ocean girl. i grew up heading north for summer getaways. to an oasis that i always considered better than any pacific or atlantic coastline. i waterskied and wakeboarded. i swung from rope swings into icy waves rolling onto forested beaches. i had never seen point break, and the words kelly and slater were just characters from saved by the bell.

sure i’ve always idolized the blue crush chicks and dreamed about the day when i would look as cool in a bikini, but i accepted long ago that yoga pants and sports bras might be more my style.

but adventure breeds adventure.

you submit to the mountains, and suddenly you hear the sea calling.

so i went.


if we wait for the volume to get louder, sometimes we miss the message and go deaf instead.

a month of attempting to become that ocean girl.

waking up early and walking down to the beach. the air was often cool in the morning, before the summer sun rose over the tree line and burnt through the clouds. the streets were quiet, which meant a less dusty stroll from the hilltop to the shore.

nose to tail, rail to rail, waxing up with intermittent coffee sips. then heading to the sea with a zinc nose and bikini clad body.

unsure of the ocean’s rhythm, i sat on some driftwood and watched the locals pick their waves. it takes time. to read the water. to feel the pulse. to understand the power.

after a month, i was just starting to sense the unspoken words she was saying.

shuffle through the shallow sand with board in hand. the water is warm. a big set rolls in and quickly reminds me, this is the ocean. full of salt. a mouth full of salt.

i often forget. i walk into a giant body of water and just assume it will taste like lake michigan. here it tastes like tears and sweat. it dries a thin layer of seasoning on your skin. it clears out your sinuses with every accidentally inhale and leaves your eyes softly burning.

will i ever learn to love that feeling?

paddle paddle paddle past the break. then i always need a rest. legs dangling straddled on either side of this floating extension of self. sting rays, fish, and a whole world living beneath you. each trying to remain unaware of the other.

for most surfers, satisfaction comes from catching the wave. but what about this moment? this special space where you are peacefully waiting to see what gift she will give you. looking out over the horizon tuning into her rhythm. the sun warming your skin. the salt drying on your lips. i could wait there all day.

but when you sense something good rolling in, it’s time to move on. paddle paddle paddle paddle and pop up. turning down the face and staying just ahead of the break. letting your legs inform the movements. splashing back into the waves with the biggest shit grin plastered across your face.

or maybe not.

paddle paddle paddle paddle and pop up. get slammed into the tumbling circle of angry h2o that has no care for your well-being. breath held and body avoiding injury. panicking to surface and find safety, if only for a split second.

her beauty only intensifying as you slowly swim back out for round two.

i will always be a lake girl, but the sea has left its mark. found its way into my soul. testing the limits of my fear. reminding me that i am powerless.

12 reasons you should never date a rock climber

Another Matador Network article of mine to enjoy…

IF YOU HAVE AN OUNCE OF ADVENTURER in you, you’ve probably felt the pull of the muscled rock climber parking their van next to you at the campsite. But, if you truly have any ounce of sense in you, you’ve learned why to stay away:

1. A “10 Year Plan” is not a thing.

Neither is a Five Year Plan, or even a One Year Plan for that matter. Unless you’re talking about which routes or problems they plan to send this season, most climbers have no clue what the future holds. All they know is that they are oh-so-close to finally finishing Twinkie, so you’ll most likely find them in the Red River Gorge this spring.

2. There is only one thing they’ll splurge on: new gear.

If you’ve got your eye on a partner who will treat you to fancy dinners and expensive gifts, you might want to rule out climbers. To them, a nice meal involves concocting a unique mix of whatever treasures were scored during the last dumpster diving excursion to Kroger. But don’t confuse this thriftiness with necessity — they are probably just saving up for a new pair of La Sportiva Solutions and a set of C3s.

3. Words and numbers have never felt so foreign (and vulgar) to you.

“Did you stick the crux on the roof of Hillbilly Gang Bang*? You really gotta shove a hand in the crack. There’s no way it’s a 5.12d.” Climbers have their own lingo and unless you plan on double backing your harness and learning to tie in properly, good luck understanding them. One of these YouTube videos might help.

*We know this is not the real name of a climb, but just for the record, Hilbilly Sex Farm is.

4. Showering becomes a luxury.

Two weeks without a shower? Pretty standard. Don’t think for one minute that the state you met them in will ever change. Greasy hair, dirty clothes, and that unmistakable climber musk are all points of pride. Learn to love it.

5. And so does a bed.

Dating a climber means getting used to the fact that most of your nights together will be spent without freshly-washed sheets stretched across an expensive Sealy posturepedic. Instead, you’ll find yourself snuggled uncomfortably upon a couple of Therm-a-Rests, or if you’re lucky, an old futon mattress thrown across some plywood in the back of their van.



when you move to australia.

Have you been keeping up on all my matador network articles? Check out my latest and be sure to share them with all your friends and family! 🙂


1. Most of your income goes towards beer.

The rumors are true. Australians love their beer. Unfortunately, it’s also true that shit is way more expensive on their massive island. Remember the good old days (before you lived in Australia) when you could get a 30-pack of PBR from the local liquor mart for under $20? Those days are long gone. Add a beer category to your monthly budget because $50 for a carton is bound to take its toll on your bottom line.

2. You miss the sound of geckos when you travel.

To answer your first question, yes, geckos make sounds. You immediately learn this fact when trying to fall asleep in your newly-renovated Queenslander. Chirp chirp chirp. At first, you are disgusted that tiny lizards wander in and out of your house as they please, but after a while, they sound like home.

Read the full article.

See all my articles here.

thanks to my half of the world.

you don’t realize something is missing until finding it changes everything.

i have spent the past six weeks jet-setting around america trying to define who i am to the man i love. days jam-packed with people and places that felt crucial to understanding me.

it is weird to date someone for a year and never have them meet your friends and family. never have them see the town you call home. never have them know what your memories look like. especially for someone like me. a person whose everything is the people that surround her.

week in los angeles.
thanksgiving in chicagoland.
few days in grand rapids.
quick tour of ann arbor.
couple hours in detroit.
back to chicagoland.
adventures with mutual friends in san diego.
week in portland.
snowboarding vacation in aspen and steamboat springs.
overnight in boulder.
back to chicagoland for christmas part one (including bears and hawks games)
day trip to janesville.
back to chicagoland for christmas part two.
and new year’s with his family in honolulu.

yes, we’re tired. no, we didn’t get to see everyone. i missed nashville and west virgina and new york and some chicagoans. some best friends only got a quick meal. and some spaces only got a quick minute.

but i feel better. i feel immensely better. i feel even better than i thought i would.

my two worlds finally collided, and they still fit together. they seem to fit together even more. every face has a name. every story has its space.

when you love someone, you want so badly for them to be a part of it all. to know the awesomeness of your childhood home. to know the hilarity that is your family dinners. to know the love you feel for the people you (hypothetically) call besties.

and now you know.
and i love you more.

maybe more is the wrong word. but i just feel complete. a more complete reflection of myself, of the life i lived, the love that made me who i am.

excuse my outpouring of emotion, but that’s what’s going on today. and lots of it.

the six weeks leading up to the new year were filled with so many of my favorite faces. i am grateful for each and every one of them. for the amazing family that i’m proud to call mine. for the faux families who have adopted me into their lives. for the long distance friendships who made time for a coffee. for the endless amounts of free guest rooms, couches, and floors that continuously give me a home. who knew showing someone else around my world would make me appreciate it that much more.

enjoy your new year. do something epic. then write me a letter about it.

if you need me, i’ll be sleeping in a costa rican hammock for a couple of months to recover from 2014. come visit. i’ll return the favor and let you sleep on my couch…

making hope a habit.

a friend from middle school recently got married in chicago. the event (along with a need for some random odds and ends) sent me to my 5×5 storage unit in illinois and deep into my two rubbermaid bins full of photographs. 4×6 images meticulously sorted into small manilla envelopes labeled and dated. endless prints from school dances, vacations, sleepovers, and unforgettable memories temporarily forgotten.

as i was searching for a couple photos of the bride and i together in our youth, i stumbled upon my old modeling portfolio. i don’t know if it was my idea or my mother’s, but at age six, i spent a day with photographer george papadakis sporting curls and polkadots and a pout that was surely put to good use in those early childhood years. a star was being born.


along with the excitement of getting professional composite cards made, my mom also enrolled me in barbizon modeling academy where they attempted to teach me some manners (and some modeling/acting pointers of course). as i walked across that stage on graduation day in my black floral one piece pants suit (complete with white dress shirt collar) and black chauffeur hat covering my twin french braids, i was bound and determined to become famous. i was sure that there was someone sitting in the audience who would hear my jif peanut butter commercial read through and hire me on the spot.

apparently, that’s not how it works.

instead, i spent endless days getting out of school early and driving the hour to chicago to audition for some random role. an easter fashion show for sears. a hand model for a children’s craft book. an extra for a company employee training video. sometimes i would get the part and sometimes i wouldn’t.

as i sat sprawled out on the pavement near the door of my storage unit, i flipped through all these images of my younger self and stumbled upon my big claim to fame.

it was a national ad campaign for gateway foundation. my photograph was used in their brochures, newspaper ads, billboards, and more.

now what is gateway foundation you ask? maybe, i’ll just let the pieces i found speak for themselves:



mom, seriously? you let me be the poster child for a drug rehab center at ten years old?! i hope you got some good money out of that one. i don’t recall ever seeing a cent of my earnings, but after the expense of my dance and college education, i will not hold a grudge. you’re welcome.

and on a more important note, mom, seriously? you let me rock a perm on a short bob with bangs?! i don’t think the 90s did anyone any favors when it comes to fashion.

despite all this, i am pretty sure that i had that pout mastered. totally look like a sad, drug-abusing adolescent. i wonder if all the people driving by the billboard in chicago bought into my anguish. if they could feel the hurt i felt deep within my ten year old heart.

and now, look where i am 18 years later… not on the cover of vogue, that’s for sure. wonder what it feels like to peak at 10 years old? let me tell you, it rocks. when you know your best work is behind you, you are free to revel in the downward progression of your glory years.

don’t worry though, i’ve helped “make hope a habit.”

(sorry for this seriously sarcastic post. i just had to share these priceless images.)